GOP newcomer & combat vet Joni Ernst tapped for State of the Union rebuttal

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) rehearses the Republican response to U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington January 20, 2015. | REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Some lawmakers will brandish yellow pencils as a symbol of solidarity and free speech tonight during the State of the Union to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Members of Congress told Time magazine that several have confirmed they will join in on the act tonight when the President of the United States is to address a join session of the United States Congress.

Earlier this month President Obama and his administration failed to show up at a rally against terrorism in Paris where more than 40 world leaders showed unity after the Islamist terror attacks that rocked that nation.

The White House has been trying to shift blame since then.

Nevertheless, Wisconsin's Rep. Gwen Moore said through her press secretary Eric Harris, she will yield a pencil.

"Rather than divide and intimidate us, these brazen and barbaric attacks have united the international community and prompted a global response in defense of the freedom of expression," Harris said.

Tonight's State of the Union is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. EST on all of the major networks. President Obama is expected to talk about tax increases, foreign policy and cyber security, among other issues.

The State of the Union will be followed by the Republican response from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a 44-year-old rural Iowan who still teaches Sunday School in the church where she was baptized, according to USA Today.

Ernst is the first new senator the GOP has ever selected to deliver the State of the Union rebuttal. She is the first woman ever elected to Congress from Iowa and the first female combat veteran ever to serve in the senate.

A Harley-Davidson riding, pistol packing lieutenant colonel, Ernst, who was in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Iowa National Guard for 21 years, served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.